There is a transcript from executives at the American International Group (AIG) that is likely to infuriate many Americans, still smarting over the $165 million in bonuses paid to executives after the huge federal bailout. Statements from a conference call reveal executives who express contempt for the public and bravado in their own business abilities. These include statements from employees hoping that the public loses a trillion dollars and blaming the problems on Congress, and the public rather than their own business decisions.
Notably, one employee asks if the company could secure a second round of bonuses, which produces laughter from the group given the public outrage. Yet, AIG employees did get a second round of bonuses.
While AIG expressed contrition in public, employees denied any mistakes on the call. One employee stated “I will stand behind every action I have taken in this company from Day One.”
On the the conference call of March 23, 2009 with Gerry Pasciucco, who was hired to help shutdown Financial Products after the AIG bailout, the employees refused his suggestion that the employees waive their right to bonuses due to the company’s meltdown and bailout. The reaction was outrage, with one employee saying “I think it violates everything I believe in, and it’s un-American.”
One employee objected to the very notion of a penalty and insisted that some of the bailout money go to reward employees: “You made a commitment to us, and we made a commitment to you. And for anybody to look beyond that, as the politics and the media are at the moment, is missing the point. You can’t expect us to just roll over and ignore that commitment because there is a bunch of immoral bigots that intend us to do something different. It’s not going to happen.”
There are likely to be many citizens who have concluded that both Congress and AIG “missed the point” by giving these bailouts. What is really striking is how these employees are demanding bonuses after the bailout while blaming the public for their problems. One employee states “To be honest with you, I really hope it blows up. I think the U.S. taxpayer deserves to lose a trillion dollars over this thing for the way they have behaved.” The employee then declares “Well, none of them cares about the country, none of us cares about the institution. They really don’t care, and I really don’t care. And frankly, if a trillion dollars gets lost, fine.”
Pasciucco himself blames Congress and the public rather than the company: referring to the process, he states “I think it’s distasteful. It’s unfair. It’s unjust. I agree with you, it’s not American. It is McCarthy-ite. . . . It will be viewed as a horribly dark period.”
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